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Editorial | NQR’s end an unfortunate yet necessary decision

Published: Monday, March 14, 2011

Updated: Monday, March 14, 2011 07:03

University President Lawrence Bacow has decided that the university will no longer allow the Naked Quad Run (NQR) to continue. The ritual of streaking around the Res Quad is a decades−long Tufts fixture, and its loss is regrettable, but we at the Daily support Bacow's decision to put an end to it.

As Bacow rightly wrote in his op−ed, it is only a matter of time before NQR results in a fatality. Every year, the tradition is invariably marred by multiple cases of alcohol poisoning — sometimes from nearly fatal levels of alcohol consumption — as well as injuries resulting from falling naked on the concrete surrounding the Res Quad. It is not difficult to envision that a drunken mass of naked students, all sprinting along the same icy path and surrounded by a crowd of spectators, could result in a death or a serious injury; we should count ourselves lucky that it hasn't already.

Ideally, extra safety precautions and additional police supervision would minimize the risks to participants and NQR would be able to continue. But the university has tried that. Since the 2002 run — which resulted in multiple hospitalizations from falls, collisions and alcohol consumption — the administration has expended considerable resources to provide adequate police supervision and make the route safer for runners.

Eight years later, in spite of the university's best efforts, accidents are still a yearly occurrence. The chaos from last semester's event — in which police officers became involved in physical confrontations with some students — is proof that TUPD could not maintain order during the run. Regardless of one's opinion of TUPD's conduct during last December's run, it is clear that the department does not have the capacity of controlling such a vast crowd of students, many of whom are heavily intoxicated.

Furthermore, the police departments of Medford and Somerville have decided to no longer help enforce the event. We cannot reasonably expect TUPD and university administrators to single−handedly ensure the safety of several−hundred participants.

Nor is it fair to ask officers and administrators to do so. It puts them in the uncomfortable position of having to physically subdue nude college students while avoiding touching them inappropriately; according to Bacow's op−ed, some TUPD officers have expressed concern that requiring them to police NQR may breach federal sexual harassment statutes. Though many are able to participate in NQR civilly, each year police officers must endure insults from naked, disrespectful, drunken students and then face accusations of police misconduct when they try to subdue those who have grown too belligerent.

Yet ultimately, our support for Bacow's decision is not out sympathy for TUPD officers or administrators. There is something inherently positive about shedding inhibitions and partaking in a school−wide event that overcomes taboos. Instead, our position stems from the recognition that some students — perhaps a small population out of all the event's runners — do not have the ability to drink and act responsibly at an event that clearly has the potential to quickly turn dangerous.

NQR brought the student body together like no other event on campus, and the Daily regrets its end. But its history has been marked by too many mishaps for the administration to allow it to go on. With this in mind, bringing the tradition to an end was a responsible decision by the university.

Bacow's announcement will undoubtedly be met with a great deal of opposition from the student body. Rather than protesting its end, we should set to work on developing a new tradition to fill that void, because NQR isn't coming back.

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